Mom life: What I’ve learned as a work-from-home mom

This is a mom life post, and one that has been requested quite a few times. As always, we are all different people, with different situations, just trying to do our best in our own lives. You may not agree with some of the things I say or do, and that’s the beauty of the world, because you don’t have to. Please enjoy and don’t judge! 🙂 

I’ve had several people recently ask me “how I do it all,” and I’m always so shocked by the question. To be totally honest, I feel like I do SO MUCH LESS than so many other moms who are out there running the world, so I’m surprised that other people could see me as doing “it all.” (And I don’t even bother comparing my situation to anyone who is not a mom, because once you add a real-life child to the mix, it’s just a different playing field.)

So let’s clear this up right now, because I don’t think anybody can “do it all,” and I’m certainly not doing it all. Am I doing a lot? Yes. Am I working multiple jobs? Yes. Is this mom thing quite a bit more time-consuming and challenging than I expected? Yes and no at the same time.

Life as a work from home momma by A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

Right now, I have a decent routine down in my life and with Brady that is working for us. It doesn’t give me as much time and freedom as I would like AT ALL, but it works.

I think most of you know that I am Brady’s full-time caretaker during the days (and many nights, as Dave has a pretty demanding schedule with his job in sports). We sort’ve fell on the decision that I would be in charge of Brady, while working as much as I can on the side, and somehow, that has stuck. We don’t have any family around to help, so quite honestly, I’m pretty much the only one managing Brady most of the time — Dave is absolutely amazing when he’s home and can handle it all without me if needed, but he’s just not around as much as we’d all like during the long basketball season. We do have a great babysitter who helps out on weekend evenings here and there as needed, so Dave and I can get out for social things maybe two or three times a month.

That being said, I’m 100 percent not opposed to getting help with Brady during weekdays, and once Brady started nursing less and was on a more regular schedule I fully intended to find a daytime babysitter to help out maybe once a week — I looked around and even interviewed a few people, but then … I didn’t pull the trigger. I just kept trying my best to do everything I could, while still always being with him, and that became the normal — it’s like I just keep saying I’m going to get someone, then I don’t. As a note: I do plan to put Brady in daycare/preschool once he turns two in September a couple mornings a week (if we can get a spot somewhere, because as expected, it’s not easy to get into preschools in this area), but we’re still quite a while away from that. So for now, he’s with me, unless of course, we’re at the gym, in which case he’s hanging in gym daycare, which is THE BEST!

Mom life: What I’ve learned as a work-from-home mom

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s the deal on how I do things, and we’re getting pretty specific, because that’s what I know you lovelies like to see …

Mom life_ What I've learned as a work-from-home mom by A Lady Goes West

Nap times are work times, every single day.

There are so many things I’d love to do while Brady is napping for 90 to 120 minutes in the middle of the day, but all I do is work on the computer. I save laundry, showering, reading, talking on the phone, chores, preparing to teach group fitness and everything else to other times. I do eat lunch during his nap, but that basically entails shoving food in my mouth while I type on the computer (more details on what I eat in this post). Not ideal at all, but it is what it is. If I haven’t had a chance to shower before his nap, then it will wait until later in the afternoon. Gross? Yes. Necessary? Yes. 

While Brady naps (usually around 1 p.m.), I set up in my office, or at the dining room table and immediately get to work. I work on blog posts or freelance writing assignments, and I check and respond to emails. I don’t open social media, and I definitely don’t waste time on Instagram. As you all know, right now I’m putting up two blog posts a week on A Lady Goes West, and usually one of those posts a month is sponsored in some way, so those sponsored posts take a bit more time, as I have to work with brands on the content and timing and planning.

As far as my freelance work, I write four articles a month for a fitness company, including all of the social media language and stock image selection and topic creation — so that takes up a good chunk of my time as well. Then, there’s Beautycounter, which is the newest bucket I’ve been carrying, and right now it gets only a few hours a month — but I do plan to spend more time on it in the future, because I’d love to grow that business, and I know it will be worth the effort. (There’s also teaching group fitness, which I do 1 to 2 times a week now, and I’m picking up a second regular class on the schedule starting in February, which I’m excited about, with maybe a third on the way soon too — woohoo!)

All of this means that every single day, no matter what, I know I have at least 90 minutes to knock out work, and I don’t ever skip it. There are the rare times that Brady misses his nap, and I usually let him stay in his crib for at least 45 minutes or so while I watch him on the monitor and do a few things. And even on the weekends when Dave is home, if Brady is napping, I’m on the computer. It’s just what it is, and I love to get my work done.

By the way, also during this time, I’ll schedule any interviews or conference calls that I have to do, because I tried to do them with Brady around, and it was not a good idea. (He kept trying to grab the phone and banged on everything in his sight as loud as possible for the duration of the 20-minute call … good times.)

Evening times are work times, but not too late into the night.

I’d love to “shut off” every night after Brady goes to bed, watch Bravo, sip on some Chardonnay and lay low. However, I can’t, and I don’t during the week. Each night after Brady goes to bed, I’m back on the computer working on all of the things I mentioned above. If Dave is gone for the night working or out of town, then I continue working while I eat dinner all the way until I go to bed. If Dave is home, I usually let him take over the night-time routine with Brady, so I can work, then I shut down around 8:30 p.m.-ish and we eat dinner and then watch a show together. I’m actually very productive at night, so this is a good time for me to focus and write. On Friday and Saturday night, I take off of work time to just hang out — and then I get to sip on Chardonnay and put my feet up.

Also, after Brady is asleep, I finally jump on Instagram to post and engage as much as I can, for up to 30 minutes. I thought about putting “grow my Instagram account” at the top of my professional goals list this year, but when it comes down to it — I don’t know if I want to spend all day on that platform just to grow it, but that’s neither here nor there. Sometimes I try to sneak an Instagram post up during the day, but that’s very rare.

I think it’s important to note that when I’m on a roll in the evening, I could easily get more work done if I skipped hanging out with Dave when he’s home, if I used my Friday and Saturday nights, or if I stayed up past my 10 p.m. bedtime on other nights. This is my limit though, and I’ve set it. If I can’t get it done within naps or the couple hours in the evening, then I can’t get it done. I don’t get up before Brady in the morning, because sleep is too important to me, so I don’t count on that time either. And that’s a choice I’ve made that is limiting for sure.

Ashley and Brady in the office by A Lady Goes West -- October 2018

A few months ago, I had to take a hard look at everything I was doing and saw that I had reached my work output limit in the time that I’m willing to work. That’s why I went down from three blog posts a week to two. When I picked up more freelance work, that meant less time for the blog. I’m at full capacity for freelance work now too, so for now — I’m not taking on anything else, even if it sounds cool and I want to — I’ve got to have those boundaries.

Include Brady in all the daily tasks he might enjoy.

Right now, Brady is at that adorable age where everything is entertaining. He LOVES to help me get ready and to help me practice group fitness too by climbing between my feet. I usually put him in his high chair (we have this one) with some little crunchy cereal bites and wheel him down to the bedroom when I need to do my hair and make-up before heading out (this also works for showering). I’ll talk to him, let him touch my hair brush and whatever else I’m working with, and he’s totally happy with that. Same goes for a lot of chores — he wants to watch and “help” with laundry and vacuuming and all of that. And when I’ve got him in his high chair eating in the kitchen, I’ll sometimes prep breakfast, or his food for the next meal, or do whatever else it is I need to do in there.

Brady at Whole Foods by A Lady Goes West -- December 2018

I often go over my group fitness routines by “marking” them in the playroom with Brady. He’ll crawl under my legs, clap his hands and giggle the entire time. I obviously can’t go full out or bring weights around, but it’s enough to be productive and help me learn things. We don’t do this together every day, but a few times a week.

I also run afternoon errands and do the grocery shopping once he wakes up from his nap, and we do it together. Brady loves riding in the cart at the grocery store, so it’s easy to get that accomplished with him around. He has fun at the post office. Target is the best. Basically, outings are fun.

I know he will continue to grow and change and I may not be able to count on this anymore, but it sure works for now. 

Outsource what I can to save time.

We recently decided to have some housecleaners come once a month to do the deep cleaning. I do all of the regular chores, like laundry, sheets, emptying garbages, dishes, vacuuming, etc., etc. (bit of a neat-freak over here), but I do not want to spend time doing deep cleaning. Nor does Dave — although truth be told, he was the one who was cleaning our bathroom up until this point.

Yes, cleaners are an expense, but time is money, and this is a decision we should have made a long time ago. I’d love for the cleaners to come every other week, but hey, once a month is sure better than nothing. I still have a lot of daily chores to handle with a house and a baby and a dog, but crossing deep cleaning off the list sure does help.

Remember, time is money. 

Work from home mom life by A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

Amazon Prime is life.

I don’t know why I ever questioned spending the money on Amazon Prime, because I think we got our money’s worth that fee within the first month or less. When we’re running low on things, I simply go to Amazon, click two times, and whatever it is we need is delivered to our door two days later. Sometimes I just reorder the same thing too. I like to get loads of toilet paper and paper towels and snacks and such at a time, so we always have a huge stash.

This doesn’t even have to be a mom thing, it’s just a convenience thing, because even if I can take Brady with me to Target, I don’t want to browse the aisles guessing which product is best, I want to read the reviews and click a button and move on with my day. So there you go.

Three cheers for Amazon Prime, so it had to be mentioned.

Truly enjoy our play time, distraction free.

For a while, I was always trying to get things done while playing with Brady. I stopped doing that. Even though sometimes I go over my group fitness plan in his playroom, that’s it. I don’t even bring my phone in anymore unless I’m taking photos of him. In the beginning, I would sit there wishing I was crossing things off my to-do list, but now I think of engaging with my sweet little son as something on my to-do list. I enjoy it, I soak it up, and I’m present. And he can TOTALLY tell when I’m not present.

Ashley, Rudy and Brady outside by A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

It’s actually a nice break from feeling like I’m running around trying to handle all the things. We snuggle, read books, play with toys and laugh for at least a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the afternoon. It’s the best. (And having the ability to do this all the time is something I’m grateful for!) I would highly recommend other mothers ditch the computer and phone and TUNE INTO that playtime, because it’s not going to last forever, and boy we will miss it when it’s gone, right?

And this isn’t the easiest thing for me, but I’m getting much better at it.

Brady on the floor A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

Daily movement is good for my soul and so is gym daycare.

It’s funny to me now that I was ever nervous to take Brady to the daycare at my gym. I mean, what a major downer that would be, if I couldn’t teach or take classes or work out at the gym during the week? Brady loves the gym daycare, and I think it’s good for him to hang out with other kiddos of various ages and have some independent time away from me during the day, every day. Every weekday, we head to the gym mid-morning, and he stays in kid-care for about an hour, while I work out or teach a class. I know a couple of moms who even get their showers in at the gym, and I don’t do that, but it sure is a good idea.

We both leave the gym in a great mood, and hey, kid-care playtime usually tires Brady out, so he’s even more ready for his midday nap. And I know I mentioned this before, but we found our go-to babysitter at the gym daycare too.

Ashley in the gym by A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

I know some moms don’t have access to a gym, and I encourage you to see if you can wiggle some other things around in the budget to make it happen, because it truly is a benefit to you and your tot.

Know that my current situation is not forever.

When you’re a new mom (which I don’t think I consider myself any longer), it’s easy to think … oh my gosh, what have I done, is this really my life now. Like a lot. Even if you go back to work at an office, you’re probably a complete mess. But the reality is, things get a little better with time, you get better routines, you learn better ways to do things, and you have to remember that even if the first few years of our child’s life seem like forever — they are not.

I will not always have a wiggly and chatty toddler on my hip when I go to ship something at the post office. I will not always have a giggling little boy in my arms when I go to the gym to teach classes. Those thoughts are POWERFUL. Yes, sometimes I wish I could go to Starbucks to work all day, get a manicure and a blowout on the way home and operate on my own more regularly. But that’s not my daily reality.

My current situation is my current situation, and I don’t want to look back and regret that I was not more present when I could have been. 

Don’t even bother looking at the grass of others.

Here’s another one that is MUCH easier said than done …

As I said at the beginning of this post, I really try not to compare my life to anyone who doesn’t have kids any longer. I can’t. It’s different. I don’t compare my life to what it was before I had Brady either. It’s different. As much as I’d like to, I can’t compare my life to someone who goes off to an office all day and has full-time childcare — although I know that presents a bunch of challenges in its own right too. And I definitely can’t compare myself to someone who has family nearby to help at a moment’s notice whenever they want either.

It’s very easy to think that other people have much more ideal set-ups than me, but when it comes down to it, nobody’s situation is perfect, so you just have to do what you can with what you’ve got. That’s what I’m doing. And when I know it’s time to get more help, I’ll hopefully pull the trigger.

Mom life as a work from home mom by A Lady Goes West -- January 2019

Final thoughts …

All of us moms are just trying to do our best with whatever situation we have. You may be a stay-at-home mom, or a full-time-working-away-from-home mom, or you may be a strange mixture of the two like me. No matter what your role is, make sure you soak up the time you have with your little and know that nobody is “doing it all,” and why would anyone want to anyhow?

Right now, I’ll always have things on my to-do list that don’t get crossed off, and I’ll always have big ideas on my goals list that I don’t quite get to, and that’s fine. While I don’t need to save the world, I do need to give as much love as I can to my sweet little Brady — and I know I’m killing it at that “to-do” each and every day.

In closing, I love being Brady’s mom so much, I’m proud of myself for all of the work that I still get to do — because I truly enjoy writing this blog, being in the fitness industry and making money from things I’m passionate about — and overall, life is good. I can’t complain. Or at least I’ll try not to. 🙂

My friends, just keep doing YOU! I know it’s not easy, but I know you’re doing your best, and that’s all that matters. You’ve got this! 

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Questions of the day

What’s something you do to be more productive?

Mommas out there, what kind of hacks do you have to share with the group?

How was your weekend?

How can you be more present in your life today?

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25 Comments

  1. Thank you sooooo much for this post!!! My daughter is going on 4 and I’m 33 weeks pregnant with #2 so life is going to change A LOT again. You gave some excellent suggestions for establishing boundaries, especially in terms of being present with your little one, which are so important. Thanks for continuing to put out relevant content for all the moms out there!

    1. Hi Erin! It’s such a blessing to be expecting another little sweet one, lady! So that’s amazing, and it’s getting so close. While I don’t have experience with multiple children, I know that much of what I said will still apply. You will be a WONDERFUL mother to two! 🙂

    1. Julie! What a big day! You will do great! Hopefully you can get into the work zone during the day, and get right back into the mom zone tonight. GOOD LUCK!! 🙂

  2. Love this Mama! Sounds like you have a great routine! 🙂 I can’t wait for Donovan to be in preschool next year so that I can blog more, haha it’s just not happening as much as I’d like. I usually spend nap or rest time working out or getting prepped for my pilates classes going over choreo! Oh and yes to amazon prime and having a cleaner, it makes such a difference. Have you heard of instacart? That has been a lifesaver when my husband is out of town!

    1. Hi Marielle! Yes! I used Instacart for our groceries for years in the City, but it’s pretty easy to get our food now that Brady likes the grocery store so much! And yayyyyy for teaching POP Pilates and Donovan going to preschool soon! 🙂 Keep up the good work, momma!

  3. Loved reading this post! Random question…could you share any info about your couch? Brand and style? From what I can see, it looks gorgeous! The pillows are fabulous too! Thanks!

    1. Hi Sheila, We LOVE this couch — it’s in our living room/playroom and is so soft and comfy. I didn’t see the exact one, but we got it at Living Spaces https://www.livingspaces.com — they have cute stuff! We have a nicer Pottery Barn couch in our family room, but didn’t want to spend too much on the one in the playroom.

  4. I really like this post—I am not a parent, but I can imagine the changes and sacrifices it takes to be a good one:) I love the underlying message you have—be present, give yourself a break and know that what you’re doing is enough! Love it!!! Who couldn’t use this reminder?

    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head, Amy. Thank you for reading, and I’m glad the message was received! 🙂 Hope you had a great weekend, and I hope you can apply this one to your own life too!

  5. Hi Ashley, I always wonder how you got everything done each week. I am always impressed with your blogs in such detail. I think you do it by being in a routine. Each day is pretty much scheduled by the minute. You are very happy with your routine. But I imagine it will change as Brady goes older. Your days must fly by so fast. I enjoyed reading your experiences being a mom.

    1. Hi Richard! Thank you so much! I love to have a routine, and I think Brady is following in my footsteps with that. 🙂 And yes, the days fly by! We truly appreciate you following along with our lives like you do! 🙂

  6. Not a mom, but as a former educator I am appreciative of moms like you (and YOUR mom, of course!) You just keep giving all of us perspective no matter at what stage of life we might be. Love the thoughtful impact you are having on so many, Ashley! Thanks. ❤️

  7. Ashley, loved this post so much. Thanks for writing it. I really want to work on being present with being with my little one – I too have focused on trying to do things while being with him and it’s better to just enjoy the time I have with him. Thanks for that reminder.

    1. India! You played a part in inspiring this post, so thanks for reaching out, lady! 🙂 And yessss being present in your daily life, no matter what you are doing, is what it’s all about!

  8. Ashley, I loved reading this post SO much! I am pregnant with my first, and currently freelance from home while going to grad school part-time. My husband also works long hours in sports/entertainment in NYC, and because I have a more flexible schedule, I know that the child-rearing will fall to me. I am so grateful that I do have that flexibility, but I am also incredibly passionate about my work and often worry how I’m going to “get it all done” while taking care of a child on my own for most of the time. Your post is refreshingly honest, and your thoughts about how this isn’t “forever” really hit home with me. I can sometimes have a bit of a fatalistic attitude (drama queen, I know) so that’s something I will make sure to always keep in mind – that it might be hard/not ideal right now, but it’s not forever. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi Manisha! Yes … the mom with the flexible schedule most definitely will have much of the responsibility, and maybe when it comes time for that, you will soak it up and be okay with it. Or maybe you will need to find more help right off the bat! You don’t know until you get there, but you do know that your little one will be worth ANY effort or worry! And they won’t be little forever. Thanks for reading!! 🙂

  9. Thank you for writing this! You definitely have a good thing going on with childcare at the gym at least. I’m able to blog maybe once a week? And I feel like it’s so haphazard ha! I’m at home full time and have zero family to help and zero childcare offered at our gym. Small town problems…so I’ve had to give up a lot of work!! I agree it’s so tough to not judge ourselves based on how ‘others are able to do it all’ but we all have unique situations.

    1. Yes we do, Jess! Too bad about childcare at your gym. Are there any studios that offer childcare? Worth making the switch? Nonetheless, remember, it’s a temporary arrangement, so just do your best! 🙂

  10. I really loved reading this post! Sounds like you are doing really well and I am inspired by your very specific boundaries that you have set. I am now going to look at my days/weeks a little more specifically myself. I am indeed a weird mix like you haha of work/stay at home mom of my 14 month old daughter, I work 2 evenings a week at a restaurant and am full time parent the rest of the week. My husband also works long hours and evenings/nights so I am true solo parent 4-5 days and nights a week as well. So, I feel ya 🙂 I am actually a trained Pilates instructor and was working as one as well pre baby but I haven’t found a teaching situation that has worked with my new mom limitations/babysitters schedules just yet so, here we are. I am looking to get back to that eventually. My hours can get tiring but the nice thing is I leave work at work so aside from chores, I do get that ‘put my feet up’/real housewives time. But I miss planning my classes! I wouldn’t trade anything for all the time I get to spend with my girl though! It is definitely a balance and the thought of the possible next baby is a bit mind boggling, isn’t it?! Also, gym childcare time is the best 😉 I live in the cold North so we have had some days where weather prevented getting out to the gym and I definitely feel it!

    1. Hi lady! Hopefully when you feel the time is right a good opportunity will open up for you to get back to teaching Pilates — but it will be there. I’ve also taken WAY more time off from teaching some of my favorite group fitness programs, but I know they are still going to be there for me when things work out better. Good for you for managing some work and a lot of mom time! Thank you for reading and keep doing your best, momma! 🙂

  11. You’re amazing! I got tired just reading all of your routine. I’m not a mom but I hope to be someday. I used to be a teacher. Kids are wonderful but very energy-consuming!

    What I do to stay productive- I have a personal weekly planner and a separate daily work planner. I must write everything down! It helps to get it out of my brain and on paper. I always have several to-do lists as well.

    I’ve learned to give myself a break and realize there will ALWAYS be plenty on the to-do list and to learn to enjoy life a little more. 😉 While also trying to stay on top of things so they don’t pile up! Such a constant balance.

    Love your blog! Brady is lucky to have such a great mommy! I admire your discipline to get all of your “work stuff” done during his naps.

    1. Hi Cassie! Ohhhh thank you so much for this sweet comment! You are the best. And no matter if you have kids or not, you have to give yourself some grace sometimes when it comes to what you can complete and achieve — life is WAY more than just crossing off the to-do list and getting things done! 🙂

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